Monday, November 18, 2013

Meltdown by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

Woods provides an interesting narrative of the meltdown of the real estate and financial markets that happened early this decade, showing that the actions of the federal government, its quasi government agencies, Fannie and Freddy, and the Federal Reserve bear the bulk of the responsibility for the crisis. Additionally, he walks us through previous recessions and depressions usually blamed on the business cycle, showing that they, too, have been primarily caused by government meddling with the economy to suit its own purposes.

I, personally, have been convinced for some time that we haven't had a true free market capitalist economy for over a century, despite the rhetoric about robber barons and monopolies that comes out of history classes I took when I was young. Governments at all levels seem to have figured out how to reward their cronies and punish their enemies through the power of the purse strings, and have been doing so, to the detriment of the middle class taxpayer and the poor for some time now. Anyone who is truly honest and wants to help the little guys gets corrupted rapidly by the system in order to stay in power, and if they don't, they're out of power shortly.

One interesting thing that I found here was the following:

"It turns out that there was a larger percentage increase in adjustable-rate prime mortgages than there was in subprime mortgages, where all the trouble was said to be. This, too, explodes the myth that the mortgage crisis came about because of unscrupulous lenders preying on vulnerable people who for whatever reason couldn't understand the mortgage terms they were agreeing to. If that were the case, how did prime adjustable-rate borrowers get more bamboozled than subprime borrowers?"

Woods includes a great primer for those who haven't previously been taught about what money really is and how it is supposed to work, including the history of how we arrived at our currently unsound fiat currency. There's also a great section on Austrian financial theory, promoted by people like Hayek and von Mises.

Good stuff, perhaps a little dry, and gets you thinking, anyway.


ProudHillbilly said...

My knowledge of the mortgage crisis tends to be limited to wanting to cry when I see what my house is assessed at now compared to what I paid for it. Not that I plan to move any time soon, but OW.

Jon said...

I was fortunate in that I'd purchased so long ago that even at the nadir of the mortgage meltdown, my house was still worth more than the purchase price. I had considered selling at the peak of things, but decided it wouldn't do any good, everything else on the market was at least as expensive, and we weren't quite ready to downsize.